Last night, in the small town, I was visiting the store of a merchant friend of mine. He'd gone to the city and so I spoke with his wife. I've shared with this family a number of times, but they have not given themselves completely over to God. The woman told me that she has been reading the Bible each morning, usually Psalm 4 or 5. We began to talk about what it means to present yourself to God and pray, as mentioned in Psalm 5.
When she said she never asks God for anything, just thanks him for what she has, I told her that the only time I remember someone praying to God and not asking for something was the prayer of the Pharisee. She didn't know what I meant, so I told her the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
When she asked what she could pray for when she has everything... money family a good home... I told her she could pray for spiritual things. I then told the story of Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah and I also told the story of the widow and the corrupt judge.
As she began to name things that she would like God to change in her character and that of her husband, her youngest daughter walked in, cellphone in hand. She announced "That's my thing. I am really given over to stuff. This cellphone for example. It is the latest and best, but if I lose it or it breaks, I will cry and complain everyday until dad gets me a better one. I can't imagine not having my things."
I told the young teen girl about when a young rich man went and asked Jesus how he could have eternal life. She became very involved with the story, more than I expected.
As I told the story, she listened. "so, Jesus said, 'you know the commandments: don't commit adultery, don't murder, don't steal, don't give false testimony, honor your father and your mother.' Then the young man replied, 'but I've kept all these commands since I was a child.'"
Then she interrupted "Me too!"
I continued "Jesus looked at the man, feeling compassionate love for him, and said "But you still lack one thing... Go and sell everything you have and give the money to the poor, then come and follow me." I paused.
The girl's eyes got wide and perplexed and she asked "What did he do?"
I continued and told of the man's sadness and the statement that Jesus made. "How hard it is for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle that for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God."
She was quiet for a moment. I imagine that she was thinking about that needle, because she and her mother are skilled at making clothes. She asked, "Can a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven?"
I answered with the question of the disciples "Well, then who can be saved?" and the reply of Jesus "What is impossible with man is possible with God," and then finished the story.
I asked her if she would be willing to give up all of her things and all that her parents earn in order to have entrance into God's kingdom. She quietly said "I don't know."
Her mother had been listening the whole time. As I left the two of them began to talk seriously about the stories I told.